Turkish propaganda outlet Daily Sabah has once again been caught red-handed falsifying and misappropriating truth, reminding us once again why Turkey is one of the lowest ranked countries in the 2021 Reporters Without Borders report for media freedoms, is the second most susceptible country surveyed on the European continent and its surrounds to fake news, and how 90% of media is government controlled.
In an article titled: ‘Greece shut 126 Turkish minority schools in Western Thrace in decade’, Daily Sabah said, citing Ahmet Kara, the head of the Minority Schools Council Union, that “126 schools in which Turks living in Western Thrace have been receiving education have been closed by Greek authorities in the past 10 years.”
“The status of minority education is outlined in the Treaty of Lausanne and a series of cultural protocols and education agreements signed between Turkey and Greece,” Kara told Yeni Şafak.
“While we had 229 minority schools a decade ago, we only have 103 elementary schools and two high schools left now,” Kara said, adding that the Greek government does not give permission to open new schools.
What the Daily Sabah article omits though in their attempt to portray the Greek State as targeting Muslim minority education is that between 2009 and 2014 alone, 1,705 schools all across Greece shut down because of austerity measures during the economic crisis.
Many more schools after 2014 also shut down because of a lack of funding.
The Daily Sabah article also claims that there are up to 150,000 Turks in Western Thrace.
This could not be further from the truth and just another repeated mantra from the Turkish propaganda machine.
There are 150,000 Muslims in Western Thrace, but this does not make them ethnically Turkish. What the Daily Sabah outlet purposefully failed to mention is that within that 150,000 are Muslim Roma, Pomaks (Slavic-speaking Muslims) and Greek Muslims.
The Daily Sabah propaganda outlet alludes that only Greece recognises “the minority in Western Thrace only in terms of religion, that is to say as a Muslim minority.”
However, the Daily Sabah also omits that Turkey’s official position is also a recognition of a Muslim minority in Western Thrace as Turkey’s own Foreign Ministry website affirms there is only a Muslim minority.
The Treaty of Lausanne Part VI Article 2 states:
“Moslems established in the region to the east of the frontier line laid down in 1918 by the Treaty of Bucharest shall be considered as Moslem inhabitants of Western Thrace.”
Ankara and Turkish propaganda outlets like the Daily Sabah continually harass the Muslim minority in Western Thrace.
Many community leaders have to continually express that they are not Turks and that the provocateurs in Western Thrace are nothing but a small minority within their community.
Last week, Zeki, the guardian of the Alevi’s Teke of Roussa, was angry when asked if Alevi’s were a “Turkish or Muslim community.”
“Is it possible for you to ask me something like that after what we said? Do you want to fight? Is it possible for you to talk to me about a Turkish community?” Zeki said, adding: “Our grandparents were Greeks and we suddenly became Turks?”
Following the final Ottoman conquest of the Greek-speaking Eastern Roman Empire in the 1400’s, the new and small but ruling Turkish elite enforced a Turkification process on the millions of inhabitants it ruled over in Anatolia and Southeastern Europe.
This process of Turkifying Greeks continued even decades after the formation of the new Republic of Turkey in the early 1920’s, particularly against genocide surviving orphans and widows.
Given this Turkification process, which includes Islamification, millions of Anatolians and Europeans were labelled as “Ottoman [Turks]” by Ottoman authorities so long as they were Muslim, regardless of their actual ethnicity.
In this context, it is why Turkey attempts to appropriate all Muslims in Western Thrace as Turks, regardless of their actual ethnicity.
Earlier this year, the Cultural Association of Pomaks of Xanthi reacted strongly to statements by the president of the KIEF minority party, Çiğdem Asafoğlu, who once again characterised the Muslim Minority in Western Thrace as “Turkish.”
They pointed out to the president of KIEF that she “can feel like a Turk and long for Turkey” but the Pomaks “feel for their homeland Greece and feel like Greeks.”
This sentiment was also shared by Thrace’s Muslim Roma community, with Sabiha Suleiman, president of the Women’s Cultural Union in Drosero village, declaring that “we are Greek citizens, not Turks.”
The comments were made after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said in April that “some 150,000 people of Turkish descent live in Western Thrace today, but Greece does not show them the respect those citizens deserve.”
In this way, the Daily Sabah attempts to portray Athens as targeting the Muslim minority in Western Thrace despite the majority of the minority declaring their loyalty to the Greek State.
Only a small minority of the Muslim minority act as agent provocateurs for Turkey, a reality that Ankara finds frustrating as it is being more aggressively rejected by the Western Thrace’s Muslims.
It is recalled that a US Report on International Religious Freedom in Turkey found that the “[Turkish] government continued to limit the rights of non-Muslim religious minorities.
“The government continued to restrict efforts of minority religious groups to train their clergy, and the Greek Orthodox Halki Seminary remained closed.
“Religious minorities again reported difficulties opening or operating houses of worship; resolving land and property disputes and legal challenges of churches whose lands the government previously expropriated; holding governing board elections for their religious foundations; and obtaining exemptions from mandatory religion classes in schools.”
The report also highlighted Turkey’s conversion of historical Orthodox churches into mosques, in addition to pressures that religious minority face in the education system.
“Non-Sunni Muslims and nonpracticing Muslims said they continued to face difficulty obtaining exemptions from compulsory religious instruction in primary and secondary schools and often had to choose from electives dealing with different aspects of Sunni Islam,” it said.
The Daily Sabah often creates propaganda that is easily caught out.
In one such example, the outlet ran an article with the title “Greece misuses Ottoman monuments in major blow to cultural heritage.”
The Turkish daily claimed that the Rotunda of Galerius in Thessaloniki, or as the Daily Sabah mislabels it, the “Sultan Hortac Mosque,” was being abused by Greece as it did not serve as a mosque as it did under the Ottomans.
This was despite the fact it was built in the 4th century, nearly 300 years before Mohammed, the founder of Islam, was even born.
It is recalled that the Daily Sabah, is owned by Ahmet Çalık, a close associate of Erdoğan,